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Book Review: Zami- A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

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zami, audre lordePlot Summary (Taken from Goodreads): From the author’s vivid childhood memories in Harlem to her coming of age in the late 1950s, the nature of Audre Lorde’s work is cyclical. It especially relates the linkage of women who have shaped her.

My Review: One of the best things about this book is its beautiful imagery. She makes some sentences in the book seem like lines from a poem. An example is the line “All the colors change and become each other, merge and separate, flow into rainbows and nooses”. In addition, there are poems sprinkled throughout the book that give a more vivid impression of her experiences.

Another fantastic aspect of the book is how the poignant bond between women is shown. The book’s title is a Grenadian word meaning “friending” and symbolizes the bond between Lorde’s ancestral home of Grenada and the women that impact her life. Lorde’s experiences show how true sisterhood is formed between women who are mothers, sisters, friends, and lovers.

In addition, the book has a powerful historical account of racism, lesbianism, and the McCarthy era. All three of these themes eventually intertwine as Lorde struggles to discover her identity and her place in the world. There are a couple of chapters devoted to Lorde’s thoughts on how others perceive race and sexuality and the impact of those perceptions. These thoughts are insightful and could easily apply to today’s times.

The only flaw of the book is also its strength. Sometimes, the author focused too much on her romantic relationships with other women. It made the book a bit slow and melodramatic.

Overall, this book was a touching autobiography that may give strength to fellow outsiders of any race, sexuality, or gender identity. I recommend it for black history month reading and anyone who has enjoyed Audre Lorde’s poetry.

Written by Serena Zola

February 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Op-Ed: The Key to Celebrating Black History Month

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I remember I used to half-heartedly attend Black History Month assemblies in middle school and high school. I’d think, Here we go again. Oh well, at least I can get out of this crappy class I hate.

It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the assemblies. It’s just that after a couple of years, attending the assembly because we were required to got old. I wanted to celebrate black history because I connected to it, yet I couldn’t connect to it because of the way it was taught in class. My schools were focused more on standardized test-prep than learning enjoyment, so I felt like a robot when it came to learning black history (and almost everything else).

Until I started taking college courses, I couldn’t figure out which black history person or time period I really liked. My interest was first piqued when I took English 1102 and read the poem “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks. It blew my mind, seeing a female black poet write about young people like that. Afterwards, I ended up reading more of her work and then found my way to Langston Hughes, where I discovered more amazing work. Both Langton Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks eventually inspired me to write my own social-issue poems about youth. Furthermore, they led me to other black writers and a tradition of reading at least one black author’s work during black history month.

Another connection to black history came when I looked up the history of music for a psychology survey paper on music. I discovered the blues roots of rock music and came to enjoy a song or two from people like BB King, Ray Charles, and Chuck Berry. Since rock is one of my personal favorite music genres, I couldn’t help but take pride and appreciate these talented musicians for their contributions. Besides rock, I also discovered a few jazz and funk musicians I appreciated too. Cab Calloway and James Brown became a few favorites.

In the end, I think it is your personal interests that make up the ability to truly celebrate and appreciate black history. You need to know what piques your curiosity and then explore it. You can’t just celebrate black history month because you’re black or you’re required to in school. Find your personal connection to black history, so you can celebrate a part of yourself.

Written by Serena Zola

February 10, 2013 at 7:59 PM

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